By Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja with agency report
There was widespread concern yesterday over the discovery of a number of animals at the Gamji Gate zoo in Kaduna, Kaduna State, including a lion and hyena, found to be on the verge of starvation.
Footages and photos of the animals in the facility also showed that crocodiles were kept in shallow waters while the lion was very thin with its ribs clearly visible.
Daily Mail reported that a shocked visitor to the zoo also observed a number of other severely underfed animals, but noted that after the man’s discovery, a wildlife charity has begun a rescue mission from the “horror zoo” in an attempt to save the life of the severely malnourished male lion.
However, there are questions over whether the lion can survive for long, given that it had lost a lot of weight and had been subjected to unfavourable conditions, as if it was on the verge of death-locked up in a cement cage.
It said the malnourished lion on the brink of starvation had to be rescued from the state-owned zoo by an animal welfare charity after a visitor was horrified at the zoo’s conditions.
“I was so surprised. I felt so nervous and uneasy because it was my first time seeing a lion live. This is my first time in a zoo. I virtually saw them in movies, news and magazines. Actually, most of the animals in the zoo are not well-fed. They lack proper treatment or let me say-malnutrition,’’ the guest at the facility said.
Disturbed by the scene, the man recorded his findings and quickly contacted the animal welfare charity to assist in the rescue of the lion.
Among the other animals at the zoo, the man found a skinny hyena living in horrendous conditions, while the animals were held captive in metal unkempt cages at the zoo which charged a dollar for an entry fee.
The footage and photos showed the lion looking incredibly thin with its ribs visibly protruding from its stomach.
This is in stark contrast to a typical full-grown male lion, which weighs around 420 pounds, while female lions generally weigh about 280 pounds. The lion, named Zaki by the charity, is in critical condition and had been left to suffer beyond comprehension.
But, WildatLife, the organisation working to rescue the animals, said it is working alongside the Nigerian Association of Zoological parks, which has assisted them in finding a wildlife vet, and informing the authorities, who are investigating the matter urgently.
‘‘The vet was sent to the zoo, and gave medical assistance to the lion, but it will require further treatment which the NGO, WildatLife, will pay for. We are awaiting the full vet diagnosis and report into how and why this has been allowed to happen,” the unnamed man stated.
While the crocodiles were kept in a larger area in the zoo, but it had shallow water that was swamp-colour and full of debris.
‘’If Zaki survives this ordeal, our NGO has offered to relocate it to a sanctuary that will see him thrive.
‘‘But in its critical condition now, it is not viable to relocate it; we must work closely with the Nigerian officials to have this matter dealt with internally. We must prevent suffering in zoos that hold wildlife captive for profit,’’ the organisation stressed.